The Oldest $100MM Players

Kevin Brown signed the first nine-figure deal in baseball history after the 1998 season. 33 at the time, Brown had just logged 257 innings for the NL Champion Padres, striking out 257 and posting a 2.38 ERA (164 ERA+). Brown provided the Dodgers with some elite seasons before moving to New York, where he disappointed in pinstripes.

In the decade-plus since Brown finalized his record deal, all 25 players to sign for $100MM or more have been younger than he was. Here's the complete list of $100MM players sorted by age, courtesy of MLBTR's Transaction Tracker:

  • Kevin Brown, 33, signed a seven-year, $105MM deal on 12/12/1998.
  • Alex Rodriguez, 32, signed a ten-year, $275MM deal on 12/13/2007.
  • Cliff Lee, 32, signed a five-year, $120MM deal on 12/13/2010.
  • Jayson Werth, 31, signed a seven-year, $126MM deal on 12/05/2010.
  • Ken Griffey Jr., 30, signed a nine-year, $116.5MM deal on 2/11/2000.
  • Jason Giambi, 30, signed a seven-year, $120MM deal on 12/18/2001.
  • Alfonso Soriano, 30, signed an eight-year, $136MM deal on 11/20/2006.
  • Carlos Lee, 30, signed a six-year, $100MM deal on 11/24/2006.
  • Ryan Howard, 30, signed a five-year, $125MM extension on 4/26/2010.
  • Matt Holliday, 29, signed a seven-year, $120MM deal on 1/7/2010.
  • Carl Crawford, 29, signed a seven-year, $142MM deal on 12/8/2010.
  • Mike Hampton, 28, signed an eight-year, $121MM deal on 12/12/2000.
  • Manny Ramirez, 28, signed an eight-year, $160MM deal on 12/19/2000.
  • Vernon Wells, 28, signed a seven-year, $126MM deal on 12/20/2006.
  • Barry Zito, 28, signed a seven-year, $126MM deal on 12/29/2006.
  • Johan Santana, 28, signed a six-year, $137.5MM deal on 2/2/2008.
  • C.C. Sabathia, 28, signed a seven-year, $161MM deal on 12/20/2008.
  • Mark Teixeira, 28, signed an eight-year, $180MM deal on 1/6/2009.
  • Todd Helton, 27, signed a nine-year, $141.5MM deal on 3/1/2001.
  • Carlos Beltran, 27, signed a seven-year, $119MM deal on 1/13/2005.
  • Derek Jeter, 26, signed a ten-year, $189MM deal on 2/1/2001.
  • Joe Mauer, 26, signed an eight-year, $184MM deal on 3/21/2010.
  • Troy Tulowitzki, 26, signed a six-year, $119MM deal on 11/30/2010. For more on Tulo's deal click here.
  • Alex Rodriguez, 25, signed a ten-year, $252MM deal on 12/1/2000.
  • Albert Pujols, 24, signed a seven-year, $100MM deal on 2/19/2004.
  • Miguel Cabrera, 24, signed an eight-year, $152.3MM deal on 3/24/2008.


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28 Comments on "The Oldest $100MM Players"


4 years 4 months ago

Lots of guys signed until their 36 year old season. Is there some kind of data that shows that that is the age most players regress, or is that just a coincidence?

Threat_Level_RedSox
4 years 4 months ago

i think the data is called “in the history of baseball”. Only a handful of players were ever worth top dollar after their age 36 season and most of those guys used steriods or played during WW2.

4 years 4 months ago

Using BaseballReference.com, I’ve found that only 7.9% of the top 550 best offensive WAR seasons were by players aged 34+ while only 10.8% of the top 495 seasons ranked by OPS+ were aged 34+.

Take away Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire and those #’s go down to 7.1% for offensive WAR and 9.8% for OPS+.

What data shows that from age 34-36 they are still worth top dollar?

@EvanR- I think your point is valid and teams probably have to pay those extra years in order to have the player want to go to/stay with that team.

4 years 4 months ago

I believe that this is more due to the fact that most players inline for a $100MM contract break into the league at 22-23. If you enter the league at 22-23 you would become a FA around 29. Contracts that exceed $100MM are usually around 7 years in length so the contract would end around 36

55saveslives
4 years 4 months ago

Wow…that’s a lot of UGLY!!

East Coast Bias
4 years 4 months ago

Tulo can get another big payday. He’ll only be 32 when his deal expires.

glenstein
4 years 4 months ago

Worth it: Manny Ramirez, Johan Santana, C.C. Sabathia, Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Alex Rodriguez (first contract)

Maybe: Matt Holliday, Troy Tulowitzki, Mark Teixeira, Carl Crawford, Joe Mauer

Not worth it: everything else

j6takish
4 years 4 months ago

Johan worth it? The same Johan who is likely to miss half of this season and it still under contract for 5 more? I’d move Johan and CC down into the “Maybe” section

Pawsdeep
4 years 4 months ago

Half right–Johan, except down to the “ugly” section and skip the “maybe”. But I think CC needs to be moved to the “worth it” group. I mean, he’s been better than any other starter on the list and he is honestly being called “sane” for the idea of turning down 96 mil because he may be worth more. Dude is well worth the coin the yanks are coughing up for him now.

He may not be worth what he may demand next year though….

glenstein
4 years 4 months ago

Sorry? Including 2011, Santana is under contract for 3 more years with a club option for 2014. Thus far he’s averaged 200 innings a year for the Mets and pitched well.

Still, you are right that he’s a “maybe.” But Johan is coming off an injury that’s similar to those suffered by Jorge Posada and Al Leiter, who both recovered well. It may depend on how he pitches in 2012 and 2013. So yes, “maybe.”

GaryLe
4 years 4 months ago

I think a strong lesson is that prime years are more important than saving a few dollars and prospects.

It took GM’s a long time to figure out that it makes a lot more sense to sign a player long-term in pre-arb because not only does it provide cost-certainty, but it provides an extra one or two prime years. And even if those prime years come at free agent prices per year, avoiding the decline years makes the deal worth it.

I think the next learning step will be making more deals like Tulo’s extension. While it may seem like an unnecessarily early and long extension at mega prices, its not the year by year player costs thats important. Colorado is paying NOT to pay for Tulos decline years when he’s 36-39, by paying for a premium for those 26-33 aged years in advance.

A team like Tampa would be smart to sign Evan Longoria now to a 6 to 7-year extension now at premium dollars and lock him down until he’s 33-34, even though they have team options for him until 2014. Not that Tampa could afford to extend him anyways.

Pawsdeep
4 years 4 months ago

I thought the Tulo contract was freaking genius. You are paying him, but you have ALL of his prime. You don’t have to eat the last years of an aging players contract by signing them that young. It never made sense to me as to why GMs would knowingly overpay the final years of a contract…

optionn
4 years 4 months ago

I think the Tigers did this with Verlander. They gave him a lot of money with 20 million+ per free agent year, but locked him up when he was young. That way you save on the number of years on the backend.

Pawsdeep
4 years 4 months ago

Agreed. They did the same thing with cabrera too.

monkeyspanked
4 years 4 months ago

Probably gonna see the Jayson Werth deal join the “What the hell were they thinking” deals of Mike Hampton and Kevin Brown.

4 years 4 months ago

anyone else notice a huge gab between 2001 and 200 besides me?? I mean Beltran and Pujols are it….Then notice the flurry after that? I wonder why that is?? I mean obviously its about talent but you can’t argue that there just wasn’t good enough talent for those couple of years..

glenstein
4 years 4 months ago

I think there was a change in “market” during the 08/09 winter, when the Yankees signed C.C. and Tex. At first those deals were eye-popping, but they became the new normal. Red Sox owner John Henry thought the $180MM mystery bid was way too much for Teixiera at the time, but has since moved on to sign Crawford and Gonzalez to comparable deals.

Leonard Washington
4 years 4 months ago

Sox got great value on Manny, same thing with the Yanks and Jeters first big deal.

4 years 4 months ago

It sure is ugly signing a perennial All-Star, Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, and Batting Title Contender to an extension.

Green_Monster
4 years 4 months ago

Dude you really need to…… You should see a……. Maybe someone can help you with….. God, I can’t even finish my sentence. Man that post was ugly

55saveslives
4 years 4 months ago

I’d gladly take that contract if we didn’t have a guy named Buster on our team :)

4 years 4 months ago

yes we all know that the total amount of homeruns is the ONLY thing that makes a player. And that was only one season. uhh…

4 years 4 months ago

9 home runs, but put up a 5.6 WAR out of the backstop… Which is more valuable?

optionn
4 years 4 months ago

Owners and the media must love making 1 guy a ton of money. I understand they got a new ballpark and all that jazz, but why give this guy 180+ million for the hell of it? For what? Because he is a hometown kid? He isn’t worth it. You notice everytime one of these players get a huge contract they get injured? Mauer last year was nicked up all year and had no power. Beltre gets nearly a 100mill and tweaks his calf muscle one week into spring. Its just idiotic to guarantee that many years. Its not like there are a bunch out of teams wanting to shell out 20 million a year for a guy. Twins way overpaid just to make the media feel good.

The dude just walks around the clubhouse with a big grin all the time- yeah everybody I get paid 23 mill a year for the next 8 years aint I special.

inleylandwetrust
4 years 4 months ago

It’s pretty sad that now a days the only award worth mentioning is the last one you posted.

4 years 4 months ago

Not to support Pips, but it’s happened 3x…

4 years 4 months ago

It’s better than paying A-Rod 30MM for the next 7 years. Mauer is just entering his prime and will only get better, as Rodriguez is past his prime and will be on a decline.

Pawsdeep
4 years 4 months ago

Mauer will lucky to be catching in 4 years thanks to his frame and the brutality in which full time catchers are made to endure Catchers dont play long for a reason, especially without injury. He is by no means “entering his prime” at 28(one month away, sorry if I jumped the gun). He still has some solid years behind the plate, but he will be a part time catcher or DH for atleast half of that contract.

Still, not a bad contract, but thinking he will continue to get better and improve as the years go on is basically madness.